Hoaxes & Rumors

President Obama Refuses to Salute the Flag: Real or Hoax?

President Obama Refuses to Salute the Flag: Real or Hoax?

A photo has circulated for years which allegedly proves that President Obama refuses to salute the American Flag during the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem. Today we’ll look at this photo a little closer.

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The photo is real.

It was taken during the National Anthem, not during the Pledge of Allegiance as some have claimed. The photo was snapped in Indianola, Iowa back in 2007 during the Presidential campaign. There have been many claims associated with this photo over the years.

In 2013, the following caption has been spotted:

With the many highly unconstitutional and evident corruption being revealed regarding the Obama Regime, this picture takes on a whole new meaning. LIKE and SHARE as a reminder that we have a president with no respect for our system of government or rule of law.

In 2007, the this caption was commonly used:

He refused to not only put his hand on his heart during the pledge of allegiance, but refused to say the pledge…how in the hell can a man like this expect to be our next Commander-in-Chief?

Should then-candidate Obama have saluted the flag? Let’s first take a look at the official Flag Code:

Sec. 301. National anthem

(a) Designation.–The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
(b) Conduct During Playing.–During a rendition of the national anthem–
(1) when the flag is displayed–
(A) all present except those in uniform should stand at
attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;
(B) men not in uniform should remove their headdress with
their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder,
the hand being over the heart; and
(C) individuals in uniform should give the military salute
at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until
the last note; and

(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face
toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

The president’s defenders have pointed out that none of the other politicians on the stage were facing the flag as code dictates – which means that they, too, were violating the flag code. It has also been pointed out that saluting during the National Anthem is not as strictly observed as it is for the Pledge of Allegiance. Whether or not the President should have placed his hand over his heart during the National Anthem is a point typically contended along party lines.

Obama not saluting

Is this image proof that Barack Obama refuses to salute the flag?

President Obama’s Response

At a town hall meeting on November 7, 2007, Candidate Obama was asked about the image by an Iowa voter, who stated, “You’re standing with your arms folded and Hillary’s got her hand on her heart.”

Obama salute

Defenders point out that the President does salute the flag.

Obama smiled and responded,  “This was not during the pledge of allegiance. A woman was singing the Star Spangled Banner when that picture was taken. I was taught by my grandfather that you put your hand over your heart during the pledge, but during the Star Spangled Banner, you sing!” He also added, “I have been pledging allegiance since I was a kid.”

Some have pointed out that Obama was not singing during the anthem, either.

Alhough some have suggested that the image was digitally manipulated, the veracity of the image is corroborated in the video of this event below:

Left-Handed Salute

A hoax, perhaps inspired by this controversy, was circulated early in Obama’s presidency. It claimed to show Barack and Michelle Obama accidentally saluting the flag with their left hands. That image was proven to be a hoax. (Full story)

2012 “Obama Flags”

Failure to salute the flag isn’t the only flag-related accusation made against the President. During his re-election campaign in 2012, President Obama was accused of selling flags featuring his iconic “O” in place of stars on the U.S. flag.

It is true that a design has been created based on the American flag, though it is being sold as a print and not as a flag. After the controversy, the item was removed from the Obama store around September 24, 2012.

The description of the item on the official order page read:

(SKU OFA1540)
Screen print designed by Ross Bruggink and Dan Olson of Studio MPLS. Limited edition (250 units), hand-numbered, 24” x 36” and made in the USA.

Not surprisingly, the reaction to this design fell along party lines, with supporters mostly unfazed by it, and those opposing the President’s re-election expressing outrage. President Obama’s Twitter account sent out a tweet with a link to the item, and wrote:

A poster to say there are no red states or blue states, only the United States:

There was also a variation of this design in the shape of the United States.

Here is poster in question, which was sold for $35:

A graphic quickly circulated on social media in protest:

A variation of this design is also being sold as a poster for $35, featuring a map of the US:

Most commentary regarding the items was written in the form of protests from conservatives, some veterans groups, and those who hold the flag as sacred. Here is one such scathing commentary in protest. You can read a collection of tweets about the flag here.

It should be noted that some defenders will point to a Mitt Romney design that also replaces some of the stripes on the American flag.

Some have pointed out that Abraham Lincoln had his own flag produced for the 1860 election, as seen below:

Bottom Line

The photo of President Obama with his hands folded during the National Anthem is real, and it happened back in 2007. To say the president “refused” to salute the flag is perhaps overstated, as he has obviously been photographed saluting it hundreds of times. Candidate Obama was at least guilty of being unaware of the symbolism and controversy that his clasped-hands stance would generate.

Your Turn

What do you think of this photo and the claims surrounding it?


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